Five other Great League Cup Upsets
Bradford City’s stunning semi-final victory over Aston Villa has understandably been referred to as one of the biggest League Cup shocks ever. The 4-3 aggregate victory sees the League Two side become the first team from the fourth tier to reach a major Wembley final and only the second, behind Rochdale, to make a major final at all.
January 23rd, 2013
We’ve racked our memory banks to dig up five major League Cup upsets that maybe, just maybe, are on a par with the Bantam’s achievements this season. Manchester United and Arsenal fans may be advised to look away.
Manchester United 0-3 York City, 1995
Manchester United have notoriously used their fringe players in the early rounds of the League Cup and this tie was no exception. Therefore, the side was packed with “fringe” players going by the names of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville, alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs and Gary Pallister.
York City, then of what we now call League Two, went to Old Trafford for the first let and stunned United with a double from Paul Barnes and a Tony Barras header.
In the return leg in North Yorkshire, a full-strength United pulled it back to 3-3 on aggregate, only for York to score a crucial fourth that saw then through.
Southend United 1-0, 2006
If United could blame a team of kids against York, they couldn’t do the same against Southend as a side containing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher and Gabriel Heinze fell at Roots Hall.
Goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan and striker Freddy Eastwood were the heroes for the Shrimpers, with the latter curling in a glorious free-kick to humiliate the visitors.
Liverpool 1-2 Grimsby Town, 2001
Liverpool started the defence of their Worthington Cup title with what seemed like a relatively straightforward home tie against Division One side Grimsby Town.
What Liverpool didn’t count on was a former Evertonian and boyhood Koppite coming back to haunt them and send them crashing out of the cup at the first hurdle.
After a goal-less 90 minutes, Liverpool looked to have finally got into gear when Gary McAllister scored from the spot, only for the Marriners to hit back. First, Marlon Broomes volleyed a leveller before Phil Jevons won it with a 35-yard screamer past Chris Kirkland.
Arsenal 1-2 Walsall, 1983
In 1983, Arsenal were in a bit of a crisis. Not the sort of “oh no, we haven’t won anything for a few years and Man City want to pay £20m for our best player” type of crisis – an actual crisis.
With fans calling for then-manager Terry Neil to be sacked, it was expected that a home tie against Third Division Walsall would provide some rest bite. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Even though Stewart Robson put the Gunners ahead just after the half hour, the Saddlers were well on top and deservedly levelled through Mark Rees. With five minutes remaining, Alistair Brown capitalised on a defensive error to smash home.
Terry Neil was handed his P45 shortly after, with George Graham taking the reins at Highbury.
Swindon Town 3-1 Arsenal, 1969
The 1969 final is not just one of the greatest League Cup upsets but perhaps one of the greatest cup upsets in any competition. Third Division Swindon travelled to Wembley to take on First Division Arsenal – who would go on to win the league and cup double two years later.
However, the Robins were out to make history and it was Roger Smart who capitalised on a mix-up in the Arsenal defence to put Danny Williams’ side ahead.
It wasn’t until the 86th minute that Swindon’s resolve was broken as Bobby Gould took advantage of an error by Swindon keeper Peter Downsborough.
The game went into extra time but it was the underdogs who took control, with Don Rogers netting to but Swindon 2-1 up. The shock was complete in the second half of extra time with Rogers rounded Bob Wilson to make it 3-1.